Irises forum: What got you started in Irises?

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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Aug 17, 2012 8:43 AM CST
When I was a kid, about 9 or 10, My mother, sisters, grandma and I used to go into the cow pasture and pick berries, wild raspberries, and blue berries in season. There was a small bog swampy area in one corner of our pasture that had a few wild iris growing in it. My grandmother was a flower lover, and she would always point out wild flowers and tell me what they were as we picked berries near one another. She was most fond of the wild iris, and she also had some varieties of iris in her flower gardens. She had flowers growing all around her house, and along the perimeters of her property in town. I used to love going there and helping her weed the garden. I can still hear her say, "Now don't step on any plants", as we were working among them. She would take the time to tell me what each one was, and we would admire them together. In the summer, she always had fresh bouquets
of flowers in her house. She even grew rows of batchler buttons, zenias, and Glads in her vegetable garden. I can remember when she got a catalog with a pink iris for sale in it. She had to save for a while to be able to buy it, we were a poor faminly. When she got it, she put it in a special place. I can still see the excitment she shared as she showed off the new blooms. I have no idea what variety it was, or what year that was anymore. I get misty eyed typing this thinking of these wonderful memories. I guess I sometimes feel like she's right there beside me when I'm digging in the dirt, and weeding the gardens. Telling me, Now don't step on any plants! She lived to be 93, and still cared for her smaller flower garden. Having irises brings me closer to her I guess. Lovey dubby I also wonder who we might inspire to be gardeners?
I can't wait to hear your stories!
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Name: Katherine Howe
Raytown(Kansas City) MO
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irisawe
Aug 17, 2012 9:13 AM CST
When I was a little girl I always looked forward to the irises that bloomed in a spot next to the driveway. I loved the beards. I loved fuzzy caterpillars and the beards always caught my attention. It iris smelled so good and I can remember my little fingertips could not wait to touch the beard to see what it felt like. After that I did not have any interest in iris until was in my mid 40's. I was at a farmers market in Kansas City looking for the best buys in produce. There was a vendor with blooming irises, complete with fresh roots and rhizome who was selling them. It was Comanche Acres. I saw my first pink iris that day and bought it as fast as I could pull out the asking price. It was called Love and Lace, if I remember right. The next spring when it bloomed several stalks with huge flowers of heavy substance I was totally hooked on having iris after that. The blooms took my breath away.
In a divorce I left that house and that iris. I kept the C.A. catalog that I had gotten. When my life changed and I moved to a house where I planned to stay, and had a new husband who loved gardening and me, I searched for other sources of iris. My husband and I visited Comanche Acres when iris where in bloom and we purchased our first iris for the yard that year and that was 2004. He loves blue ones and I make sure he has them.

K
Katherine
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
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crowrita1
Aug 17, 2012 9:34 AM CST
Hi,! I grew up following my Mom around the garden "helping", or so I thought! I'm sure I wasn't really very much help, tho! My Mom's family were big gardeners, as was my father's, so no matter which Aunt, Uncle, or Grandparent we visited, the talk was "Flowers", and usualy iris. They are of course , the easiest to share. Just yank up piece, throw it in the trunk, and plant it when you got home. I have iris from both side of the family, and I treasure them all! I know the "real"names of only a few,(I hope to remedy that this next season!), But they all have a "family" name! My mom always said, when i complained about the weeding, "Smell the flowers! That's their gift to you for pulling weeds!"My Dad passed on 9 years ago, at the age of 92. The day before he passed, all he wanted to do was talk about his iris bed! Hope I'm that lucky!...Arlyn
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Aug 17, 2012 7:14 PM CST
These stories are great! Tom I'm so glad you asked this question. I have my own story, of course, but I love reading everyone else's. And so many of them -- like mine -- started when they were children. Like you! Smiling

I guess my Dad had Irises in his gardens -- purple ones, probably. They were background, and I didn't pay much attention. When I was 11 years old, we moved to a brand new sub-division -- out in the middle of cornfields and prairies. My brother and I would pack a lunch (peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, and milk in a Ball canning jar) and take off on our bikes to explore our new surroundings. There was miles of room to do this. One day I happened upon a patch of Irises, blooming out in the middle of nowhere. But these were different from my Dad's -- these had gold tops (standards) and maroon bottoms (falls). I was enchanted. When I got home, I told my Dad about the beautiful Irises that I had discovered. He put a shovel in the trunk of his car and let me direct him to their location -- which involved quite a bit of walking from the *road* to where they were -- and he dug up a clump of them, brought them home and planted them in our yard. From then on, they were *my* Irises.

I wasn't exposed to Irises again until I was a married adult with a yard of my own -- when I happened across a Schreiner's catalog -- and was totally dumbstruck. O.M.G. I'd never seen such beautiful flowers. I placed an order for six, I think -- including one called *Suave*, whose colors were gold standards and maroon falls (sound familiar?). That was in 1976. When we moved to Kentucky in 1985, I dug up each Iris in my garden, carefully divided the rhizomes, replanted half for the new home-owner and brought the other half with me. I still have most of those Irises in my beds today and I treasure them as much as I did in 1976. I've added a few since then -- I have around 200 varieties at last count. And just ordered some from Dee on her $3.00 sale. And ran across a sale in Minnesota this week when I was visiting family there -- and purchased three new varieties. There's no end to this sickness...............

To this day -- I think about those bi-color Irises out in the middle of a prairie -- and wonder how they got there. And what magical set of circumstances led me to them -- and one of the greatest joys of my life.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Aug 17, 2012 9:44 PM CST
The neighbor behind us had an iris garden (lot only 40 ft wide). There were boards to walk on between the rows. He gave a few purple & sort of dirty yellow to my Mom. I used to stand on the bottom rung of a picket fence (built by my father) & chat. there's a pink one i pointed out like he didn't know. It was in the 1940s & it was probably one of the David Hall pinks.

My husband's grandmother had grown irises & had some of the dwarfs. When he saw an ad for the Hagar catalogue hubby said the immortal words, 'oh, they have the little ones' & dwarf irises, especially Green Spot came into our lives. She was a member of AIS & we are life members ourselves.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Aug 18, 2012 4:24 AM CST
These stories are so neat! Thanks for sharing them. I'm sure there are more to come. There seems to be a theme of some caring adult helping a child connect to them. As I may have told you befoe, I'm a retired Elementary principal. We used to have some special gardens that kids helped plant. They began to feel some ownership, and when the tulips etc. would bloom in the spring, they would get all excited. Even as they grew older and came back to visit, often they would go to see if "their" tulip or other plant was still there. Some times kids who have troubled lives would be able to find some positive experiences in working to keep the gardens clean and looking nice. We also had a traditon of each "graduating" class of 5th graders would donate a tree or shrub to be planted on the grounds. The whole school would gather as we planted it, and each 5th grader would put in some soil. Most of these kids were from the city, and had little connection to nature. I always felt it was important to help them learn about living things and caring for the earth. Not sure of how much it sank in, but maybe later in their lives it will come back. Some times we just plant the seed, and it takes a while for it to sprout.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Aug 18, 2012 7:06 AM CST
What a great program Tom -- giving everyone *roots* to their personal history at the school. I think it's very important for adults to impart appreciation and respect for nature into the children in their lives. It's their connection with this earth, and therefore with the humanity on this earth. If they're taught not to harm a plant, they're so much less likely to harm a human. To me, this is a generational gift.

I'm really enjoying this thread -- and hope that everyone posts their stories.

Lucy -- what a shame that your neighbor only gave your Mom the least of his Irises. What a gift if he had given her one of the pinks!! I give away whatever I have plenty of -- including the expensive ones!!
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Aug 18, 2012 7:37 AM CST
We all seem to share something in common....growing up in homes with parents who loved plants. I remember my Dad bringing home a catalog [Schrieners?] and being amazed that some one would give $25 for an iris intro. When we built our home and I started landscaping the yard I saw an ad for iris in the paper so we bought a few. Then one day in the 1970's when we were in Salt Lake City we drove by the Garden Center and saw a sign saying "Iris Show Today" We went in and saw beautiful flowers and met some wonderful people. My enthusiasm exploded. They had some catalogs there and I took home Keith Keppels address. I sent him my first order. I have had periods in my life when I became enthused with other plants but always loved iris. Now it is roses in the front beds, Hostas in the shady beds, and a back yard full of iris. Iris I remember growing include Whole Cloth, Radiant Apogee, Son of Star, Dream Lover, Beaux Arts, Gay Parasol....I could go on and on. A special treat was visiting Mission Bells Garden and seeing Mrs. Hamblen's intros, seedlings and quests from other top hybridizers. Utah Iris Society activities have been great fun. I have spent countless hours reading and rereading catalogs.......
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Aug 18, 2012 9:26 AM CST
We had Whole Cloth put up a stalk this spring for the first time in several years.

'Pink was very new in the 40s & perhaps he didn't have much. I wonder if ours were diploids, looked like it.
Mom had a fernbed as well. Flower beds often got changed to 'victory gardens' during that time period. I was about 8 & grew carrots.
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

Charter ATP Member Region: United States of America I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises Lilies
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PollyK
Aug 18, 2012 7:32 PM CST
Great thread Tom!

You could take your first post and just substitute Aunt Helen for your grandmother. Down to the bachelor buttons, zinnias and glads in a row in the veggie garden. She grew up in the depression, and she said seeds even were expensive, but all her girlfriends tried to have a row of flowers.

I remember seeing the Schreiner and Cooley catalogue. Aunt Helen would go through them with me, and we would have a wishlist, and she might get one or two each year, not huge numbers like we get nowadays. But she never had a ton of money, and she was depression oriented, I guess. I can't believe how expensive the new intros were back then. I recall seeing irises in those catalogues that were like 20.00 or so. 50.00 now seems so less expensive.

I still have a few of her irises, and I am trying to recreate beds with irises that she 'might' have purchased, in the late 50s and early 60s.

I get really teary thinking about her. A wonderful, wonderful woman, who had no children of her own, but took care of her little niece who had a loving dad that worked way to much, and an uncaring mother. I can still see her meeting me at the bus stop in Rochester, arms wide open.
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Aug 18, 2012 8:30 PM CST
Ah Polly -- you made ME tear up!!
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Aug 19, 2012 4:33 AM CST
Paul, you're right, seems like having an adult who shares and inspires the joys of growing things plants that seed in our heart that provides the interest that we develop later in life.
Such a nice story Polly, You wil have to name one of the flowers you create after her. One that contains her favorite colors. Maybe even one that has an ancestor of one of her iris.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Aug 19, 2012 10:13 AM CST
Thanks.

Tom, my only crosses so far have been beardless, and I haven't even considered doing a bearded, but what a great idea. I'm sure she would love a beardless cross just as well. I don't think they were readily available back then.

That's why I was asking over on Cubits if anyone was doing crosses on historics. I have identified through Superstition and buying one to grow side by side that the iris she had the largest clumps of was Beatrice. So, if I could cross Beatrice with another of the same age, that would be wonderful. I'm sure my friend Dee and the rest here and on Cubits would help me. I know the old ones are diploid.
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Aug 19, 2012 3:24 PM CST
'Princess Beatrice'
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Aug 19, 2012 3:45 PM CST
Yes, Princess Beatrice, sorry I knew I was missing something. A lovely pallida.
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
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CindiKS
Aug 19, 2012 5:58 PM CST
I have a large clump of pallida that smell like grape nehi soda. I love them. I have divided and shared that clump with people for 28 years, through 6 houses, 6 neighborhoods.
I think maybe I recruited a few kids to iris through that one "soda pop" iris.
Lovey dubby Lovey dubby Lovey dubby
Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Aug 19, 2012 7:28 PM CST
I've heard of that one, but never have seen it or smelled it. I'll be kid love it's smell.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Aug 19, 2012 8:00 PM CST
The late Bee Warburton claimed that as a child she thought it ws named after her. giggles, kids.
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

Charter ATP Member Region: United States of America I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises Lilies
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PollyK
Aug 19, 2012 8:07 PM CST
I think most of the pallidas have that grape kool ade smell. Princess Beatrice certainly does.
Name: Dee Stewart
Willamette Valley OR
Snowpeak Iris
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irisloverdee
Aug 20, 2012 9:09 PM CST

Moderator

OK, I have always loved flowers even tho I can not smell their wonderful fragrance unless it is hot and tons of blooms. Lost that sense as a kid about 7 years old.

In CA we had very area for flowers, but when we moved to OR we had 10 acres, lots of different flowers to enjoy and explore. Back in oh say 94-93 I drove by a huge garden that had tons of iris, just piled high no names for 2 or 3.oo dollars, did not know at the time, they were from Schreiners that were culled iris. In the wrong spot or ones they decided NO MORE, so I got tons of them and I still have them in my gardens around the house, well one thing lead to another and started buying from all over including the mart iris, then the business happened.

I love the colors of the iris, not really in to ones that are selfs but have them of course.

D
Denise Stewart
541-259-2343
Snowpeak <url>http://snowpeakiris.com</http>

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